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Big Issue Scotland 25/07/05

Testing on animals has slowed search for cures claims leading UK scientist

by Peter John Meiklem
Killer diseases - including cancer, heart attacks and strokes - will be cured quicker if animal testing is stopped, according to a leading scientist.

Dr Jarrod Bailey, science director of Europeans for Medical Progress - a group which opposes vivisection on scientific grounds - believes the research community's commitment to animal-based research is hampering efforts to cure the three biggest killers in the western world.

Dr Bailey, speaking at an animal rights event in Edinburgh on July 16, said the last 15 years of scientific research into the diseases has been unsuccessful due to "archaic methods of research".

He said: "If we hadn't relied on animal research then arguably we would have discovered effective cures. We haven't because we've been led down so many blind alleys."

Bailey said if a mouse gets cancer then scientists can cure it. "But that cure doesn't extrapolate to humans because they are simply so different." He said there are "thousands" of examples where animal testing had failed and the scientific community should start looking at different methods of research if they wanted to make a breakthrough.

"Thousands of scientists believe animal testing is necessary - I used to believe it was necessary - but what we're trying to do now is get the nation to say that actually it isn't, and we'd be a damn sight better off if we moved away from it," he added.

Bailey said scientists should do more tests on human tissue. "We have many methods of finding out the effects on actual people. Only by doing that are we going to crack these things - not by testing on animals."

Barbara Davies, communications director of the Research Defence Society - which represents medical researchers in the animal testing debate - said Bailey's argument was "totally illogical". She said no
major scientific institution in the UK would support his view.

"I can count the numbers of scientists who agree on the fingers of one hand and I can name them all," she added.

Davies said animals were only used in medical research when it was "absolutely necessary" and only 10 per cent of the entire research effort was carried out on animals. Many different kinds of research needed to be done at the same time, she added.

"It's like building a jigsaw and if you've got certain pieces missing you never get the complete picture. You can't do without animal research, just as you can't do without research using tissue, and there's only a limited amount of research you can do using patients. We use computers, we use tissue culture but animals are still vital," she said.

Dr Bailey will speak at the first Cruelty Free Scotland event in St John's Church, Edinburgh on July 16. It is the first public meeting organised by the newly formed Scottish Animal Rights Coalition (SARC.)

Lynda Korimboccus, Advocates for Animals campaigns manager and chair of the SARC, said Dr Bailey?s visit was an attempt to tackle the negative publicity that is often associated with anti-vivisectionists.

She said: "It is a myth that we are opposed to scientific progress. Dr Bailey represents the thousands who oppose testing on animals from a medical and scientific point of view."

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